Homecoming 2021

The fall event’s Arts & Culture and other programming—and the Alumni Awards of Merit ceremony—continued to be virtual, but fans were back in the stands at Franklin Field for the football game.

The Timekeeper

As the president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Rachel Bronson oversees its annual exercise in calculating the world’s proximity to annihilation—the Doomsday Clock —and efforts to get the public and political leaders to heed its warning and address the threats of nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies.

Compact Fulfilled

As Amy Gutmann enters the final months of her presidency—fresh off her second record-setting fundraising campaign and having steered the University through an unprecedented pandemic—we offer a look at some of the ways Penn has grown and changed as a result of her leadership and the vision she expressed 17 years ago in the Penn Compact. Plus: Rational Exuberance, an interview with the president.

Curtain Up!

After an 18-month hiatus, live theater has returned to the American stage. Alumni active in producing shows on Broadway and elsewhere reflect on the pandemic’s onset, its impact on them and their industry, and what the future holds.

“Things Look Different in Lamplight”

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Chaneysville Incident, David Bradley C’72 (aka “The Author Of”) reflects on his acclaimed novel’s genesis and composition—and how the passage of time has made a historical fiction out of a work set in the present looking at the past.

Opening Doors

From early education to college prep, three entrepreneurial alumni are forging new paths to support online learning and enrichment.

The Cleveland Comeback

Inspired by his Penn football mentors and his father—a former Quakers’ basketball player—Kevin Stefanski C’04 rocketed through the NFL to become one of the league’s youngest head coaches. Now, after leading the Cleveland Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year hopes to turn the long-tortured franchise into a perennial contender.

Century Club

As the University celebrates 100 years of women’s sports, a handful of prominent former student-athletes recall their athletic triumphs and hurdles—and the paths they both followed and paved.

The Raven and Rico Worl

When the United States Postal Service tapped him to design a “Forever” stamp, Rico Worl took another step in his metamorphosis from cultural anthropologist to commercial artist.

Choice and Change

We know what we should do when it comes to leading healthier and happier lives. But too often we default to easier, more pleasurable wants. Behavioral scientist and Wharton professor Katy Milkman is determined to help us change for the better—and for good.

Fighting Poverty With Cash

Several decades since the last big income experiment was conducted in the US, School of Social Policy & Practice assistant professor Amy Castro Baker has helped deliver promising data out of Stockton, California, about the effects of giving people no-strings-attached money every month. Now boosted by a new research center at Penn that she’ll colead, more cities are jumping on board to see if guaranteed income can lift their residents out of poverty. Will it work? And will policymakers listen?

The Vaccine Trenches

Key breakthroughs leading to the powerful mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 were forged at Penn. That triumph was almost 50 years in the making, longer on obstacles than celebration, and the COVID-19 vaccines may only be the beginning of its impact on 21st-century medicine.

Webside Manner

Virtual healthcare by smartphone or computer helps physicians consult with and diagnose patients much more quickly, while offering them convenience and flexibility. The potential to save lives and improve efficiencies is tremendous. But can uncertain regulations and reimbursements, equity and access disparities, and shaky internet connections be surmounted?

Writing Lives

Middle school memories. Meditations on motherhood. A prismatic accounting of the self. A long life well and furiously lived: on new memoirs by Jordan Sonnenblick C’91, Courtney Zoffness C’00, Beth Kephart C’82, and Nick Lyons W’53.

The History Wars

Education scholar Jonathan Zimmerman on how the US republic lost the ability to understand itself—and how we can help our children recover it.

The Humanist Is In

In a new book, Jason Karlawish GM’99, codirector of the Penn Memory Center, unravels the tapestry of Alzheimer’s science and history, and outlines the medical, social, and ethical challenges that lie ahead.

Calling It

How John Lapinski and a squad of Penn faculty and students backing him up on the NBC News Decision Desk navigated an election season that was unprecedented—and could set a pattern for the future.

Wellness Warriors

In response to a rash of suicides in recent years, Penn students have fought to take charge of their own mental health, creating new peer-to-peer counseling groups and collaborating more closely with the administration on wellness initiatives. Is it enough to combat the pandemic stresses, burnout, and social isolation that afflict “the loneliest generation”?

In Nursing We Trust

The past year has propelled America’s most trusted profession into the spotlight, with the World Health Organization’s designation of 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife followed by the unprecedented and continuing challenges posed by COVID-19. Penn Nursing alumni and faculty weigh in on coping with the pandemic and on nursing’s essential—and expanding—place in the healthcare system.

The Museum Prescription

Doctors are worn down by paperwork and long hours, forced to focus on computer screens instead of their patients, plagued by feelings of eroding autonomy, traumatized by a pandemic—and trained to endure suffering with stoicism. What ails physicians bodes ill for their patients. Can the visual arts help revive their well-being? A year-long initiative from Penn Medicine and Philadelphia’s flagship art museums aims to test the theory at internet scale.

The Mother of Coronaviruses

When SARS-CoV-2 struck, Susan Weiss was ready. The decades of work that she and a small cohort of fellow researchers have devoted to coronaviruses, despite limited funding and little respect, have been invaluable in speeding the search for treatments and vaccines. It’s been a rare stroke of good fortune in the current crisis—and a lesson in the importance of supporting basic science in anticipation of future ones.